May 2018

May 2018

Saturday, November 3, 2018

New England Road Trip

Hubby and I just returned from a two-week New England road trip. Before flying home, we spent time with our granddaughter in Jersey City, NJ. The last time we saw Reya was last January and she was only 18-months-old. She’s still very active but now she talks, a lot!

Our New England stops included New Haven, CT; Mystic, CT; Gloucester, MA; York, MA; Kennebunkport, MA; Ogonquit, MA; Perkins Cove, MA; Portland, ME; Bar Harbor, ME; and Stowe, VT. We had many amazing meals and tested a lot of clam chowder, eight bowls in all. Hubby ate lobster, while I discovered the deliciousness of Maine haddock. But the highlight of the New England part of the trip was seeing whales in Gloucester. It was cold and the water was rough. But it was a very memorable experience.

Butterfly Reya
Grandma brought ponies!
Gloucester House Restaurant
Whale watch cruise out of Gloucester.
Marginal Way, Ogonquit, ME
Portland Head Light, Portland, ME
View from our Bar Harbor room
at the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel.
Stewman's, Bar Harbor, ME

Now I'm in full-blown holiday mode. Hubby has hernia surgery scheduled for November 15. And we have a four-day trip planned for the end of November. So I need to get things done sooner than normal. This is when being super organized really pays off!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Enlarged Aorta Update

Wednesday's meeting with the aortic specialist at the Center for Advanced Medicine could not have gone better. All physical restrictions have been lifted and I'm now hopeful surgery may never be necessary if the beta blocker continues to keep my blood pressure under control. And, of course, I continue eating well, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight. I'll have yearly CT scans and visits with my cardiologist probably for the rest of my life. But, for now, things look good and I'm very grateful.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Enlarged Aorta

After an EKG, a stress test, two echocardiograms, and a CT scan over 18 months, it’s been confirmed I have a growing aortic aneurysm that might be genetic. I'll be seeing an aorta specialist soon. I had absolutely no symptoms. A routine EKG at my 65 physical gave the first indicator something was wrong. I feel fortunate to have a caring GP and cautious cardiologist, and to be living near “international” specialists. 

Monday, July 16, 2018


Wow! It's been a long time without any blog posts. I'm fine, just busy and enjoying new interests.

I'm very active on Instagram these days. I found a lovely group of like-minded ladies and we enjoy supporting one another as we manage our homes using the Flylady method. My Instagram account is @diannegerken if you want to check it out.

Between Southwest Airlines, Delta Airlines, and Hampton Inn points and affordable promotions, we have five domestic trips planned between now and the end of January. First up is our annual trip to Sanibel Island with my daughter's family, so that includes my two grandsons. That trip's fast approaching and we're all looking forward to it. This will be our tenth year.

The last of the five trips is my second visit to Universal Studios World of Harry Potter. My first time was when we gifted the trip to my now 12-year-old grandson for his last single-digit birthday. Now it's Jonah's turn. He turns nine in March 2019. Again, it will be me, my daughter, and one grandson. But this visit we will also be celebrating my daughter's 40 birthday.

Yesterday, Jonah got his Hogwart's letter with all the trip details. I love that I found the Hogwarts stationery years ago at a garage sale. The wand and owl are recent thrift finds.

Regular thrifting is a new interest. I've been doing some home redecorating and have been able to score amazing deals at Savers. I go on Tuesdays when seniors get 30% off their entire purchase. My main goal was to find better wall art, pieces professionally matted and often signed by the artist. I've been very successful and will share more in another post.

Before I sign out, I want to shared this picture of my granddaughter who lives several states away. Reya turned two last Saturday and we miss her terribly. Our October and December trips include travel to the east coast to give her lots of hugs and kisses!

That's a bit of an update. I'll work harder at posting more often. However, my next post probably won't be until August, after we return from Florida. Happy summer!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Birthday Getaway

We celebrated hubby's 67 birthday with a long weekend in Branson, MO. Click here for all the info and images.

This birthday takes us closer to hubby's retirement in January 2019. In recent months, we've been planning and dreaming of how our lives will be when we're both retired. (I retired five years ago.) Of course, everything depends on our health.

So far things look good. Hubby's prostrate cancer continues to be extremely slow growing, and my heart issues don't need immediate intervention. So we just keep moving as best we can, which is better than a lot of people we know our age. Hubby walks and runs regularly, and I do weight lifting and aerobics at the gym three times a week.

I can't believe it's been a month since I posted. I spent a lot of April purging and cleaning. But one fun event was my second grandson's First Communion. So I'll close with this image of that especially blessed day.

Jonah's First Communion Day

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Annual MS Garage Sale

The result of a year-long purge.
(This is an area of the unfinished
part of our basement.)
Every year since my SIL was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis ten years ago, our family has held a spring MS Fundraising Garage Sale. This year the sale is this Saturday, March 31.

I didn't purge as much as last year, but still made a good contribution. Most of the items I'm donating I had held onto for my newest grand, my now 21-month-old granddaughter. But since she moved several states away last August, there's no need to hold onto the toy kitchen and pre-schooler table and chairs, for example.
Bake Sale ready!

Our garage sale also includes a bake sale. This year we got smart and I just labeled Little Debbie cakes I got on sale at Target. Cheaper and much less time-consuming than baking from scratch.

If you'd liked to help us aid in finding a MS cure in my SIL's life time, you can make a monetary contribution here. Thank you.

In addition to purging and spring cleaning, I've done a little home decorating since my last post. I rarely buy home decor items anymore, but felt the urge to update things a little. I got new spring/summer pillows for the family room and kitchen. I also got new placemats and a spring centerpiece for the kitchen table. These few updates gave me just the lift I needed to get through this year's long winter.

Happy Easter everyone!

Continuing with the dragonfly theme
in our family room with these new pillows.
These bunny pillows are much cuter than
I expected. And I think they'll work
for summer, too. Yay!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Big Boys!

Somehow these two are now 12 and 8. Elliott on Valentine's Day and Jonah today. Once they started full-time school, time just flew. Both are super bright, yet with very different interests, talents, and personalities. I'm grateful daily that I'm able to be so involved in their lives.
Happy birthday, Jonah!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

MS Awareness Month

My son-in-law was diagnosed with MS ten years ago at 30 years old. Older MS warriors envy his diagnose at such a young age because it's very possible a cure will be found well within Mike's life time.

So far, Mike's weekly injections have prevented his MS from getting worse. And we're grateful his insurance covers most of the astronomical cost of those injections.

We're also grateful Mike has no noticeable challenges such as a limp or permanent vision loss. His main struggles, so far, are difficulties fighting infections and depression.

Since Mike's diagnosis, my daughter has hosted a garage sale fundraiser every spring. (So, you see, all my purging goes to a great cause.) And our family has participated in the annual MS Walk.

Please be aware of this debilitating and growing disease. And please do what you can to help find a cure.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

More Purging

My new favorite YouTuber is Diane in Denmark. I found Diane while doing research for a possible trip to Scandinavia in 2019. She does share interesting facts about her region, but her channel's primary goal is to teach others how to make daily "chores" easier and less stressful.

I've always been organized and I hate clutter. I also love to purge and keep my house neat and tidy. Diane in Denmark is all of those things, but she's extemely practical and frugal in her approach.

Currently I'm participating in Diane's 40 in 40 Challenge, which began February 19. Everyday, for 40 days, participants purge one item. It can be as small as a broken pencil or as big as a piece of furniture. It doesn't matter the size. The objective is to be consistent, always keeping an eye out for items that are just cluttering up your space. Like many participants, I'm posting my daily items on Instagram if you're interested.

With Diane's motivation and tips, I'm now finding daily and weekly chores much less arduous. She's just what I needed at this time of my life. I love YouTube!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Branson Winter Getaway

My view from the condo's rocker recliner.
Last weekend we took advantage of hubby getting Presidents Day off and drove to Branson for a three-night getaway. We had such a relaxing time we didn't want to leave.

Danna's BBQ
I found a condo in our price range on VRBO with everything we wanted. Click here to see where we stayed. It was super clean with an extremely comfortable king-size bed. And the kitchen was well stocked with all we needed to prepare simple breakfasts and dinners. For our lunches, we enjoyed barbecue, once at Danna's and once at Rib Crib.

On Saturday afternoon we toured Titanic, which we thoroughly enjoyed. We were there 2.5 hours and appreciated the off-season lighter crowd.

Hubby working on jigsaw
puzzle number two.
Then on Sunday we spent most of the afternoon at the outlet mall, taking advantage of the Presidents Day Sale. We scored great deals on wardrobe items hubby and I both needed. And I was able to finish Easter shopping for our grandsons and granddaughter. I also treated myself to my first Coach bag, which was 75 percent off!

The rest of our days and evenings were spent relaxing in the condo. Hubby assembled two jigsaw puzzles and I watched shows on Britbox, my newest app for watching British TV. I just binge watched all five seasons of Scott & Bailey, which I highly recommend.

Branson is quickly becoming our go-to for quick getaways. Last year we went twice and we're already planning our second visit for this year. In May, hubby's birthday month, we're looking forward to the Bluegrass and BBQ Festival at Silver Dollar City.

We got home Monday afternoon and I'm still feeling so much more relaxed than I did before our getaway. I don't know why it took me so long to appreciate the Ozark Mountains. But I do know I'm now quickly falling in love with Branson.

The Titanic Museum is a must-do!
On the back of the Boarding Pass
is the name and story of a passenger.
At the end of the tour, it's revealed
whether or not the passenger survived.
Here's some of our outlet mall haul.
This doesn't include two pair of shoes,
one for me and one for hubby.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Same Five Pounds

I've been recording my weight on the LoseIt! app since January 2015. Recently I took a close look at that log and found I've been losing and gaining the same five pounds for three years. That's good news and bad news.

The good news is I've managed to stay within five pounds for three years. The bad news is I now know why I'm feeling so defeated. It's as if I've been treading water for 36 months. I haven't gotten anywhere and I'm exhausted!

I'm tired of counting calories with little positive results. I'm also tired of doing hours of research looking for a better quicker way to lose weight in my 60s. And I'm tired of having to think long and hard before joining others eating cake and ice cream at a birthday party.

But what can I do except continue with what I've been doing for the greater part of the last three years. I'll continue recording calories on the LoseIt! app, staying within 1450 daily calories recommended for my height, weight, and age by several sources. And I'll continue working out three times a week, doing a mixture of weight resistance and intense cardio.

Nevertheless, I've nearly given up on my goal to firmly lose 10 pounds. Now my main motive is to continue fitting into my favorite bottoms. Pray God that's not asking too much.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

New Approach

After the holidays, I decided to do better at planning meals and managing our food inventory. So far so good.

I'm only going to the grocery store every other week now instead of weekly. And I'm not purchasing items I already have. Instead I'm making a conscience effort to use pantry staples and freezer items I've had for months. I'm also no long buying more than I'll need for a two-week period, or stock-piling staples such as buying six cans of diced tomatoes when I only need two.

Because I'm using up what I already have and not buying in abundance, I've obviously been able to reduce our grocery costs so far this year. But an additional benefit that wasn't so obvious when I started is how much easier it is now to keep the freezer drawers (2) and produce drawers (4) clean and organized. And you know I love that!

I'm also having more fun cooking again. I'm enjoying the challenge of creating something with what I already have. Today I made soup with frozen chicken stock, some fresh mushrooms, some not-so-fresh carrots and celery, and rice. I also made pumpkin muffins with a can of pumpkin leftover from the holidays and my last box of cake mix.

In addition to better food and meal management, I've also been steadily progressing through my yearly household purging and re-organizing. I think I'll tackle the pantry next. Why not? Now that it's less cluttered, it should be super easy!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January Recap

I've been retired for five years and haven't watched either of the grandsons all day everyday for three years. Nevertheless, when I'm not rushing and stressing I still sometimes feel I'm not doing enough. I guess I'm still adjusting to retirement. But I'm happy to report, except for our five-day trip to New Jersey mid month, my January has been pretty slow-paced.

I've never been an avid reader, yet this month I finished three novels. I think in the past I just had trouble sitting still long enough to steadily get through a book. Maybe that's changing. I started a fourth novel yesterday.

This month I also started my yearly purging and reorganizing. For me 2017 was the year of the "Big Purge," which means there's much less to get rid of this year. And that means cleaning closets, cupboards, and drawers is much easier. I don't need to dedicate hours everyday to getting the job done. For example, yesterday I only tackled the spice cabinet, which left me plenty of time for reading.

I've also had time for some dreaded deep cleaning already this year. Last week, on hands and knees, I scrubbed the floor grout in both bathrooms. Luckily, since it's just hubby and me, that's only a once-a-year job.

Transitiong to a healthier diet after the holidays remains a priority. I've been trying new low-carb slow-cooker recipes and counting calories daily. Plus, as much as I hate the scale, I've been weighing myself everyday. It's been interesting to see just how much my weight fluctuates over a week. But I think it's safe to say I lost three pounds this month.

Now on to February 2018, the month my first grandchild turns 12 years old. How is it possible he'll be a teenager next year? God help us!

Monday, January 22, 2018

What's Going On?

We were babies
at 21 years old.
Wow! It's been a long time since I posted. I give regular quick updates on FaceBook but haven't had the time or desire to compose a blog entry for a long time.

Our holidays went well. I simplified Christmas which made it much more enjoyable for me. I don't see going back to a more elaborate celebration ever again. for the win!

Then on January 5 hubby and I celebrated 45 years of marriage. Besides a nice dinner on Christmas, which we always spend just with each other, I got a new wedding set to mark the occasion. It's tradition to give sapphires for a 45 wedding anniversary and I was all for that. I didn't have any sapphires and always loved Princess Diana's ring. I'm proud to say I worked all sorts of online deals and the set ended up costing a third of retail!

We barely got through the holidays and we were off to see our granddaughter, in Jersey City, NJ, over the MLK holiday weekend. We traveled with my daughter's family, staying in a rental within walking distance of my son's apartment I found on It was a packed five days, with trips into Manhattan daily, and weather ranging from 61 to 15 degrees. Nevertheless we survived and had a good visit. But I miss my granddaughter even more now.

Reya (18 months), Elliott (11), and Jonah (7).

Since we've been home, I've been concentrating on tackling the weight I gained over the holidays. That means low-carb grocery shopping and meal prep plus counting calories. So far so good.

I've also begun my yearly whole-house purge and re-organization. Today I started tackling my clothes closet and drawers and plan to finish that project tomorrow. Next up will probably be the home office.

And that's all for now. Happy New Year!